Episode #025: Can You Really Manage Customer Expectations with Tiffani Bova
In This Episode of The Buyer’s Mind with Jeff Shore:
Tiffani Bova discusses the concept of customer expectations with Jeff. They discuss how the sales market is shifting from cold calls to targeted marketing. By connecting with your customer and realizing they’ve already done their research, the challenge isn’t education as much as it is helping create a way for customer success.
Topics we’re going to cover on today’s podcast:
[2:32] Quote of the Day
[4:05] Sales Tip of the Day
[8:30] The Process Side of Selling
[11:22] The Danger of Withholding Information
[14:36] The Importance of the Soft Science Skills
[16:30] Cold Calling
[20:21] The Changing Customer
[23:45] Customer Success
[37:26] Motivational Summary
More about our guest Tiffani Bova:
Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Recognized in 2014 as one of the most Powerful and Influential Women in California by the National Diversity Council, Top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders by Brand Quarterly Magazine in 2016 and Inc. Magazine’s 37 Sales Experts You Need to Follow on Twitter. Bova is a highly sought after keynote speaker having delivered over 250 keynote presentations around the globe to over 300,000 people on sales transformation and business model innovation. A regular contributor to HuffPost, Harvard Business Review, Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM and Forbes plus various industry leading podcasts on sales, marketing and digital business.
Prior to Salesforce, she spent 10 years at Gartner as a vice president, distinguished analyst and research fellow, covering sales transformation and indirect channel innovation. She won the Gartner Thought Leadership Award for her comprehensive body of work on the Future of Sales.
Before her time at Gartner, Bova spent 15 years in various sales and leadership positions, managing both start-up and Fortune 500 sales organizations, and she still considers herself a ‘recovering seller.’
Bova is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, where she attended Punahou High School, she is a graduate of Arizona State University and The Executive Program at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Links from today’s podcast:
Jeff: You know, we’re all taught that we’re supposed to manage our customer expectations. But what if we’ve got that all wrong? Let’s talk about it on “The Buyer’s Mind.”
Announcer: Welcome to “The Buyer’s Mind”, where we take a closer look deep inside your customer’s decision-making mechanism to reverse engineer the perfect sales presentation. Now, please welcome your host, Jeff Shore.
Jeff: Well, welcome everyone to another episode of “The Buyer’s Mind”, where we investigate exactly what’s going on and the brains of prospects who are considering a purchase decision. This podcast is all about taking a stroll through the buyer’s mind, it’s about knowing the customer so well that that sale begins to roll out right in front of you. I’m your host, Jeff Shore. You can read the full bio in the show notes or you can hop over to jeffshore.com. And if you’re not following us on Twitter, why not? It’s really simple @JeffShore. And we post every day on Twitter and also repost stuff, a lot of stuff from the experts that are out there.
Today, we’re gonna be talking to one of the real superstars in the sales guru world. Tiffani Bova is the real deal. We’re gonna talk about, among other things, managing buyer’s expectations. But stick around because we’re gonna completely turn that conversation on its head. I think we have largely gotten this wrong up to that point. As always, joined by our show producer, Paul Murphy. Murphy, you’re just back from vacation or are you still on a post-vacation high?
Murphy: I’m on a post-vacation lag is what I’m on. I’m trying to recover from the jet lag. You go across the pond…
Jeff: It’s right. Yeah.
Murphy: …from over the Atlantic because I went to the U.K. and to Ireland. It’s two separate things. Don’t confuse them. You’ll get in big trouble.
Jeff: Yeah, right. Right.
Murphy: But, yeah. I’m just recovering from the jet lag.
Jeff: Give us one scene from your trip to England and Ireland–I think Wales was in there too–give us one scene that you’re gonna look back and go, “I’m never gonna forget that.”
Murphy: Oh, well, my beautiful wife on the beach is the scene that I have. And the beaches are not like sun tan beaches like Southern California. It’s more like northern California, Oregon, just beautiful rocky coastline and just enjoying just the beautiful views there. And a wonderful boat ride seeing the Cliffs of Moher.
Jeff: Love it. Love it, love it, love it. Jealous. Well, welcome back. We missed you. Well, let’s start off here with our quote of the day and it’s consistent with the topic because we’re gonna be talking about managing customer expectations. And this is from the great Charles Dickens who says, “No one is useless in the world who lightens the burdens of another.” That is something that in sales, we should put up on our wall. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
And there’s that argument that people who are coming in to us, they need our help, they are burdened. And we have that opportunity. And sales really is service to such an extent. Helping a customer understand what they are getting into is a valuable part of that service. So stop thinking of setting expectations as a means of putting a muzzle on your customer or telling them just to back it down. See it as a way to help them enjoy the process, to have a greater peace of mind about the process. And we’re gonna dive into that on a deeper level with our guests today.
We want to let you know that the podcast is always brought to you by our good friends at HomeStreet Bank. Not just our show sponsor, this is my lender. I used HomeStreet in my last home purchase. It was a fantastic experience, really smooth transaction. The people at HomeStreet Bank were professional, dependable, great rates, great service. If you’re a real estate professional and you’re looking for somebody to take really good care of your customer, you’re just not gonna find better than homestreetbank.com. So whether it’s banking, home loans, credit lines, you name it, go to homestreetbank.com. You can learn more. That’s homestreetbank.com.
All right. Here’s our sales tip of the day. And it is to ask check-in questions all along the way. Now this seems like a really simple question and it might almost sound a little bit elementary. But it doesn’t happen enough. Just stay with me here because the question itself is not where the power is, it’s the meaning behind the question. The question sounds something like this. How are we doing? How are we doing? So here I am. I’m working with my customer. I’m explaining some aspect of the product or service. I’m talking a little bit about what’s going on. But I take a break and I ask, “Hey, how are we doing? I know I’ve shared a lot here. You guys doing okay? Are you with me? Does this make any sense?”
Sometimes you just need to slow it down because you do not always know what your customer is thinking. And there may be times when a customer simply needs permission to share. So get into the habit of just asking that check-in question. Hey, just want to pause here, just, “How are you doing? Are you guys doing all right? Are you having fun? Are you enjoying this? If there’s anything I can help you with, I don’t want you to be bashful. Please let me know.” Use your check-in questions and use them often.
Before we get to our interview, I want to tell you about an opportunity here. And that’s to be involved in our 4:2 Academy. Our 4:2 Formula Academy, this is an intensive training program specifically for real estate sales professionals where we’re using modern selling strategies and skills just for today’s buyers, just for today’s market. The 4:2 Formula is the core real estate principle that we talk about at Shore Consulting. But it’s gonna give you several days–and actually spread out over the course of an entire a quarter–a program that’ll allow you to just transform your presentation. We’ve put so many people through the 4:2 Formula Academy, always with tremendous results. You can go to jeffshore.com/events to learn more about the 4:2 Formula Academy.
All right. Hey, let’s get to our interview. Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. That’s a kind of a big title, I look forward to unpacking that with her. But the resume is extremely impressive. Recognized in 2014 as one of the most powerful and influential women in California by the National Diversity Council, Top 50 Marketing Thought Leader by “Brand Quarterly” magazine in 2016 and “Inc.” magazine’s 37 Sales Experts You Need to Follow on Twitter.
Tiffani is a very highly sought-after keynote speaker. She’s delivered over 250 keynote presentations around the globe, over 300,000 people on sales transformation and on business model innovation. She’s a regular contributor to the HuffPost, Harvard Business Review, Wharton Business Radio, on Sirius XM, Forbes, plus a number of leading podcasts. And now, we are thrilled to have her with us on “The Buyer’s Mind.” You can learn all you need to learn about Tiffani at tiffanibova.com. That’s Tiffani with an I, tiffanibova.com, and we’ll put that in the show notes. So welcome, Tiffani. Glad to have you with us.
Tiffani: Oh, thanks for having me, Jeff.
Jeff: Hey, this’ll be fun. You’re really in a very interesting place and time because you’re trying to help sellers keep up with a buying mentality that seems to be changing almost by the minute. It seems both fascinating and frustrating at the same time.
Tiffani: I would agree. I’d say, you know, I like to kind of call myself a recovering seller. It just means that I no longer carry a quota. And, you know, every day I fight the good fight to try to make sure that the salespeople out there have everything they need to be successful regardless of where they work, really. But ultimately, I’d say this, that having carried a bag and carried a quota and then run sales teams and then watch them and study them in the decade I was at Gartner–and now here with Salesforce–this is the most disruptive I’ve seen the customer against the way sales approaches its processes. I think that’s where it is the most disruptive is in the process side of selling, not necessarily the art side of selling. And that is not slowing down anytime soon.
Jeff: So tell me more about that. When you’re talking about the process side of selling, I mean, we look at what has happened with technologies that has made it in many ways more effective for the sales professional, for the practitioner. But you’re suggesting that there’s a big shift for consumers, for the actual buyers as they’re doing their research, their homework. Unpack that a little bit.
Tiffani: Yes. So I’d say yes to both. I’d say, you know, there’s been so much research out there about just how much further the buyer is through their own journey. You know, whether you listen to CEB stats or Gartner stats or anybody else’s, you know, when you look at you’ve had kind of north of 60% of their journey already done. And I think that’s been talked about now for the past couple of years. And while I think that that percentage has gotten a lot of traction, I’m not so interested in the percentage, the actual percentage number. I’m more interested in the fact that it’s different, that the buyer is just further along than they ever were in the past. That, to me, has impact, whether it’s 10%, 20%, 50% ,or, you know, 65%, whatever the number is.
So that journey that the buyer is on is what I meant by saying that the sales process is what’s getting so disrupted. Because we as salespeople used to control the conversation. We used to control the drip of information we would give to a customer about our product, about our service, about our reference accounts, about our pricing, about, you know, what we did. That was dripped from sales, whether it be in face-to-face meetings, or mailers, or trade shows, etc. And so that has been flipped on its head where a lot of those introductory conversations that sales would have with customers or prospects as they were beginning their journey are no longer necessary or relevant. So that’s why I mean that it’s been very disruptive on the process.
Because now sales has to almost…you know, to use kind of a sports analogy, you know, if you if you start, if it’s football, right? If you start on the 20-yard line and you have to run 80 yards to score a touchdown–if you’re in the U.S.–and now, basically, you’re starting on the 60-yard line or the 50-yard line or the 40-yard line. You only have 30 or 40 yards to go, I’m guessing that the team would not use the same plays to go the last 30 yards as they would to go a full 80.
Tiffani: You know, they might use more passes and less running. And then as they got closer to the RedZone, they might run some more, whatever the case might be. And I think that that’s what I mean by it has to change because the plays sales would do by no means should be the same as they were as if they were starting back from zero again.
Jeff: You know, I’m thinking back to when I started my sales career, which was pre-internet, right? Sort of the knowledge is power time and I could sit there and I could say, “I’ve got this armful of information. And you may have this piece of information and you may have this piece of information. But…Nah, I think I’m gonna hold onto this piece of information because I might be able to use it later on.” And I was actually trained at one point, do not give the customer all of the information. You need a reason to be able to get back in touch with them, so I’m gonna ask you to hold stuff back. I look at that advice today and I think, in my personal opinion, that’s comical. That’s a ridiculous piece of advice because the information is already out there. So my concern here is, even as I’m hearing you talk about this, is that woe to the sales professional who doesn’t understand that shift, that change. Because they’re playing an entirely different role, they just don’t know it yet.
Tiffani: Yeah. And I would say that I totally agree. And so that exact example you gave about not giving, you know, I was saying that kind of drip of information, right? And your manager would say, “Don’t give this because you need a reason and value to reach back out to them in a week or two.” Right? You want to have something to tell them.
Tiffani: That’s what I meant by the process shifting. That has very little to do with the art of selling, it has everything to do with the process by which you’re being trained. Is it spin selling, is it…you know, whatever it is, in sort of, you know, you’re gonna call 100 people, 10 people are gonna call you back, 5 meetings, you know, etc., right? That very structured process is no longer as effective because the customer has different expectations of you.
But the one thing I want you to double-click on here is that I don’t necessarily think that this is only the responsibility of the salesperson, the individual contributor, because unfortunately, as a salesperson you very little control of your day-to-day activities. You know, the one thing I think salespeople can control every day is their behavior in front of a customer. And outside of that, there’s very little they can control, right? Because you’re being told, “Call 10 people. Call five people. Three meetings, you know, two demos.” You know, you kind of have this prescription of productivity you have to go through every day. You know, it’s named accounts, it’s verticals, it’s by Geo. You know, here’s your call list, like, go forth and conquer.
Tiffani: You have very little to control there. I actually think this is the responsibility and where it’s falling apart in this new buyer power and this sales process that’s getting disrupted is in sales management. Because until sales managers give the flexibility and freedom and permission and empowerment to the salesperson to actually maybe not do all the things that they were prescribed to do every day through this heavy process-oriented role they play and allow them to actually be responsive to customer demands and what they may want at any given time is very different for managers who have grown up either as sales reps or as managers, right? Being very productivity-driven.
Jeff: So are you concerned then about the human side, about losing a little bit of the connection in the wash of tools, of techniques, of process shifts, of everything else? Or are you worried that salespeople are going to lose a little bit of that interpersonal soft science skills?
Tiffani: No, I actually think the opposite. I think that the soft skills are going to become more important and the prescriptive productivity metrics that have, you know, very much railed, you know, a sales rep into the day-to-day is gonna have to loosen up. So I would say the complete opposite. Because I think now it is much…I think the science automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, all of those things now start to remove a lot of the guesswork that salespeople had every day. You know, it was just kind of call 100 people and then it was a numbers game, right? If you call 100 people, 20 are gonna call you back.
Tiffani: Now it’s, do you need to call 100 people or can the system, through intelligence, through your CRM and AI and some of the predictive capabilities, can it push out and say to you, “Hey, based on what we see is happening, you know, on all of our intelligence and data, we think these 20 customers are the right ones for you to call today.” And now you only need to call 20 people and you’re gonna get a much higher return rate on response or moving deals forward than you would if you were just cold calling 100 and dialing for dollars. And so then you really have to use those soft skills of, to your point, I can’t just hold information back and that’s the value I have to bring. I actually have to do some homework and understand what kind of value I can bring at each of those human touch points.
Tiffani: And it has to be something more than a customer can find on their own.
Jeff: Let’s see how you shake out on this. I belong to this tribe, if you will, of sales authors, speakers, trainers. And in that tribe, there’s a very clear line here about how people feel about cold calling. And some of us are on…far on one side and some of us are heavy on the other. How do you shake out on the whole topic of cold calling?
Tiffani: Yeah, and so I would put cold calling, I’d put social selling, I’d put, you know, all training, I’d put all that into those buckets of you’re gonna either be on one side of it or the other side of it. And many people have built very healthy businesses and living off of, you know, helping individual contributors and entire companies improve on something like cold calling as an example, right? I think cold calling in the way that it used to be two decades ago is not cold calling of today. You can still pick up the phone and cold call someone. But you better be, you know, 10 times as sharp and have, you know, a lot more information, be much more informed. So you’re gonna have to be better at cold calling and have a really compelling value prop and storyline in order to get someone on the other end who was not expecting your call to engage with you.
So do I think it’s dead? Absolutely not. You know, it’s just like a cold email, or, you know, connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Or walking up to them cold at an event and you don’t know them. I mean I think that that kind of approach still works, hands down. But I think in all this time of noise, you have to be even…you know, it isn’t about just engaging with someone. You have to be really engaging. Those two things. And I feel the same way about social selling. So I don’t think cold calling is dead. I think the way we used to do cold calling is gonna get less and less effective over time because the buyers are not gonna tolerate that kind of you don’t know who I am and you’re just sort of, you know, dialing down some lists that you got today. You know, why not have a bot do that?
Jeff: Yeah, sure. So the ubiquity of information says that there’s no reason why it should ever be totally cold as if I have no idea who you are.
Tiffani: Exactly. So that’s why I don’t like the term cold calling because they think, you know, it has carried with it a connotation over decades as a cold calling meant literally cold calling.
Jeff: Right, right, right.
Tiffani: Okay. And so the “cold” in its, you know, it’s no longer reality. I mean there’s no reason you should ever cold call, right, because you could go and do a lot of research upfront. You know, you can find out, you know, who their connections are, reach out and find out about the business. I mean there’s so much more information. So is it really warm calling now, you know?
Tiffani: Is it, you know…and does intelligence actually make it hot calling now? You know what I’m saying? Where the intelligence is literally saying, as I was just mentioning, right? Instead of calling 100, Tiffani, I think you should call these 20. And I’m gonna learn–the “I” being the artificial intelligence machine–I’m gonna learn from those 20 on what happens and what you end up entering into the CRM system, I’m gonna learn that those 20 only of them 4 of them were really great, 10 of them were kind of medium, and the remaining 6 were not so good.
Tiffani: So I’m gonna learn from that, so the next time I tell you to call 20, 7 are gonna be great. You know what I mean? And so over time, I get smarter and smarter, not the person, right? But the systems get smarter. And so, you know, it should really be this very targeted, specific, account-based call, you know, with a play behind it that is compelling to the customer.
Jeff: Right. Let’s chat here about the customer and the changing customer here. And you recently wrote that customers are ultimately becoming far more disruptive than the technology itself. That’s something that you alluded to earlier here in this conversation. What do you do to try and stay on top of those changing buying trends? Because it’s to me, there are times when I step back and look at it and I’m just overwhelmed by how quickly things are changing, especially as regards to the access to information. What do you do to stay on top of changes in the buying trends?
Tiffani: Yeah. I’d say this. I’d say, you know, as individual contributing sales reps, I’m a firm believer in always being a student of your profession. When I was carrying a quota, I’d spend, you know, a certain number of hours a week, whether it was, you know, an hour a day or whether it was over a weekend or if it was while I was flying, you know, to read magazines and around periodicals and journals, in particular verticals I was selling into or, you know, I’d read reports, or listen to podcasts, or webinars, whatever it might be to really make sure that I understood at least what customers were asking me. I didn’t need to know the answer but at least I could process what they were asking so I could go find the answer. So it was a lot about understanding. So making personal investment in your own time because if you’re not investing in you, nobody is going to. So I think the first thing is making those…carving out that time to invest in the profession that you have chosen to be in. So I’d say, you know, always continually learning.
The second thing I’d say is that I don’t necessarily believe that this is so much drastically different than we’ve always behaved, especially at high performing sellers level where they usually always showed up with, you know, more information. They were more prepared. They really double down on relationships. They were super good at networking. You know, they were always about adding value, they always put the customer first. They would, you know, come back internally and kind of fight the customers fight for them, you know, inside the organization, whether it was for delayed products or something wasn’t working right or whatever the case might be.
Now the challenge is that everybody has to do that because you can’t kind of fake your way through, well, they’ll find it on their own or I’ll give it to them later or…because the customer, especially on the B2B side, as individuals have been trained on their B2C side where they have consumer expectations in the business world. So, you know, the way I behave in my consumer life, I wanna be able to have that same kind of interaction in my business life.
So I’d say that it can be overwhelming if you look at it in its totality versus trying to just break it down into things that are manageable and digestible and kind of pick one thing that you want to improve on over a period of time. And the things that you’re not very good at, don’t necessarily try to make yourself great at it. You know, always sort of pivot towards the things you’re really good at and double down there. And then, you know, surround yourself with people who can help you on the things you may be not so strong at.
Jeff: Let’s pivot here to the topic of setting expectations. I know this is a specialty topic of yours. Too often in my experience, in my observation, we look at the motive for setting expectations being how to keep the company out of trouble. I want to set these expectations so that I can essentially put a muzzle on you Mr. and Mrs. customer. So how do we let the customer know that, you know, we’re just not maybe that we’re not going to do what we want them to do, somehow I have to believe there’s more to it than that when it comes to the whole category of setting expectation?
Tiffani: Well, I think that this brings up a great topic, which is this whole notion now of customer success. It’s a term that has gained a lot of momentum lately. You know, that’s customer experience is definitely one that is big and people talk about a lot. You know, in my last life we used to say, “Customer experience is the new competitive battleground that if, you know, you’re not delivering great experiences across both the product and the service and the sale cycle, etc, that, you know, people will vote with their wallets and their loyalty.”
But now this customer success concept is really brands making sure that the customers that buy from them are “successful” using whatever it is that they’re buying from them, right? So it a computer? Is it a cell phone? Is it a car? Is it a, you know, couch? Is it a television? Like, what is it? That whatever it was that they were looking to do that they had…they found success in using your brand in satisfying whatever demand, you know, or need they had or job they needed to have done, to sort of use Clayton Christensen’s, you know, that everything is about a job. And so if you think about customer success, that is the expectation they have.
But I would say that customers also realize, as we all do, it can’t be perfect all the time. But what’s really important is always making sure you’re transparent. If something goes wrong, that you’re coming out ahead of that, and saying, “Hey, listen, you know, this wasn’t done particularly correct,” or, “We really dropped the ball here.” or, “You know, this, you know, you got something that is just not working, so we’re gonna replace it.” You have to always kind of have the temperament and the culture of we’re always gonna put the customer first.
And if their expectations are unrealistic, it’s really about sharing with them how do we find a common ground around those expectations. But know that I always have your best interest in mind, there are just things that I can’t accommodate because I’m sure you understand I’m in business, right? And I can’t just say I’m gonna give this to you for free or I’m just gonna send you 10 more of them because I’ve made you upset or, you know, whatever the case might be. But I think people just want to be treated like people and have that transparency and understanding around expectations.
Jeff: Yeah, I think part of this comes down to the, how we use the word policy. I hate the word policy, I hate it passionately. And the reason that I do is because if you show me 100 policies that a company writes, 99 will be in favor of the company…
Jeff: …for the one for the customer. I think we probably would be well served if we’re ever writing a policy to imagine that there’s a customer standing in the room at the time that we’re writing it. But I think what we often find where we get into trouble is we think that setting expectations is about how do we creatively tell the customer to sit down and shut up? Quite the opposite, right, from the concept of customer success?
Tiffani: Well, I think that it comes down to culture. I mean, if you look at some of the things that have happened in, you know, the last six months with the airline industry, you know, we don’t need to go into great detail on that. But I think that if you think about the culture that, you know, it was…I was actually much more disappointed the fact that nobody stood up and sort of defended the guy on the plane or that even the people who work there, like, stepped in and said, “Whoa, hold on a second. This is not our culture.” You know, “This is not what we stand for.” I mean unless he was brandishing a gun or something was really terrible. At the end of the day, I mean, they were just trying to get him off the plane.
So I think that you have to, if the customer is always sort of, you know, first and the culture always defaults to that unless it just makes no sense, you’re gonna tend to err on the right side of things. You know, like I said, you can’t, you know, just if you’re a customer service agent, you go, “Well I’m doing what’s right for the customer and I’ve credited everybody who’s calling in,” that’s not necessarily the right thing for the customer. It’s most definitely not gonna be the right thing for the company. And so how you handle that has a lot to do, I think, with just going back to what I said a little bit ago, right? Empowering at that manager level, empowering the individual contributor to do what’s best and right for the customer and the business. And sometimes it would go against what you normally would have done–so let’s just pick a credit, you know, on something–that, you know, the customer had a situation that was really extenuating circumstances and the best thing to do would be, “You know what? Ship it back to us. We will send a new one at no cost,” it’s the right thing to do for the customer. You couldn’t do it every time.
Tiffani: Right? So I think that it has come, for me, it really comes down to empowerment and enabling people to make the right decisions without having to go through against those 100 policies, 99 of which are very company-centric and not customer-centric.
Jeff: One last thing here that I want to ask a question about you but just on the on the topic of your expertise, you work a lot in the area of brand loyalty. Do you think brand loyalty is harder or easier to get and to sustain than in eras past?
Tiffani: It’s a great question because I think that now, companies are getting much more focused on what metrics can they manage against that are more customer-centric. So Net Promoter Score, customer satisfaction, lifetime value, churn rates, you know, the things that are showing the health of the customer that all customers are not created equal and, you know, that you don’t need to necessarily be completely responsive to every single customer the same way. And that’s where this intelligence and analytics will really play a huge role in understanding why you’re losing customers, why you’re acquiring customers, why customers buy more from you than others, and how do you replicate those kinds of behaviors.
And I think companies have been a little bit more hesitant around pivoting towards those kinds of metrics because they feel like they’re too soft and they’re not quite as, you know, numbers sort of are good or bad, right? And it’s easy. You can say, “Look, we gained 200 customers, we lost 10.” But if I said, you know, we gained 100 customers, we lost 10 but the 10 we lost we’re actually losing us money and the 100 we gained we’re now gaining with a higher share of wallet and an average sale price. They’re staying with us two or three years longer than the average, we’re actually able to upsell and cross-sell to them three times more than we used to. Like those kinds of metrics and statistics will drive the right kind of behavior around this customer loyalty. Because customers don’t want to switch, it’s a hassle. But it’s become so easy to switch. But just because you make a mistake one time doesn’t mean someone’s just gonna, you know, bail on you.
I think that, you know, there are parts of my life–from a travel perspective, because I’m on the road quite a bit–where I’m loyal to brands at a fault, right? Because I’m so committed, it’s been so long. Me switching a brand would make no sense. I mean they’d have to really do something wrong. And so I put up with the little mistakes along the way because, all in all, it’s a better experience than I’d get elsewhere because of my status, you know, in a particular loyalty program. On other things that are small and insignificant, if I have a bad experience I’m gone very quickly. And I just don’t even give them a chance for a second try. And I will be very loyal around great experiences.
Jeff: Sure. Sure. All right, let’s wrap it up with this. Let’s talk about you for just a second. You’ve got a very impressive resume, you’ve got the academic pedigree behind you, you’re clearly a very driven person. Is that difficult for you to sustain that drive? Or do you feel like it, “No, this is just who I am. I don’t know how…I don’t know any other speed except forward and quickly?”
Tiffani: Yeah. That’s probably it.
Jeff: So are you easily bored?
Tiffani: I am easily bored but I rarely get bored because I do, you know, I have had the absolute pleasure of, you know…so the, you know, year-and-a-half I’ve been here but the 10 years before that, I got to spend all my time at Gartner, really sort of speaking around the world to lots of different kinds of companies. And I learned a ton. Like I thought I went into that job having run a division of Gateway computers as a sales leader and I was in, sort of the hosting, web hosting space very early. I was the beta client for a local and constant contact. I was super early and recurring revenue models, and, you know, cloud services, etc. And, you know, I thought I was doing some really interesting and compelling work.
And then when I got to Gartner, probably two years in, I was like, “Wow, I don’t know very much.” So I had to really work hard at becoming more academic. Because at my core, right? I’m a seller. And I had to learn how to be a marketer, really, and then running customer service as well. So kind of all customer-facing. But I spent a lot of time–even now, you know, it’s probably two hours a day–just sort of researching, reading, listening, learning. And so that keeps me from being bored, if you will. But I’m also super motivated by trying to help customers be more successful and, you know, give them hope on the art of the possible of how technology can, yes, be disruptive but be very very empowering, especially at the salesperson level.
I always get bothered when I hear people say that, you know, “Technology is gonna replace X percent of the sales person.” I just don’t agree with that at all. I think that there’s gonna be automation as there always has been. But people still like to buy from people in certain categories and want to speak to humans. So I mean, I think at the end of the day salespeople have just really got to step up their game. And I think, you know, if I can make any impact on their performance and their ability to see that it’s just gonna work itself out if they’re committed to working the process, then I’ve done my job every day.
Jeff: Right. This is fantastic counsel. I really appreciate that. There’s that concept that I teach all the time. Know everything, share what matters. You can’t really share what matters until you know everything. So there’s the idea of getting really, really strong because you never know what specific piece of information or counsel or guidance is gonna help that customer standing in front of you. Tiffani, just fantastic interview. Just loved it. Really enjoyed it. People can learn more, they could follow your blog, they could follow you on social, basically all things Tiffani Bova at Tiffanibova.com. Tiffani with and I. We’ll put that in the show notes. Tiffani, thank you so much for being on the program.
Tiffani: Oh, thanks for having me, Jeff. It’s been a pleasure.
Jeff: Well, Murph, I think we can agree that Tiffani Bova is sort of on the smart side, huh?
Murphy: Brilliant woman. Brilliant. I just loved everything she had to share about customer success versus customer experience and so many other things that you just unpacked together.
Jeff: I’ll tell you what, her comment that the buyer is further along than ever, this is something that really resonated with me because I’ve been teaching this on a regular–trying to pound this into the brains of sales professionals–that if you get this wrong, if you think that your buyer is farther behind in the process or less informed than they are, this is gonna be a real problem because…and I’m sure you’ve seen this, Murph. If you’re out shopping for something, maybe it’s a tech item, how much you already know about the product is going to have a dramatic impact on your buying process, right?
Murphy: It does. And sometimes, I know a little bit more than the salesperson and I don’t need them to tell me about it. I just need to know if they have it.
Jeff: Yeah, right? It’s pretty simple sale at that point. I also loved the concept that Tiffani pointed out, the difference between engaging and being engaging. So it’s one thing to say that I’m going to engage you in the process or I’m going to use that almost as a tool to move the sale along versus just that strong, deep-rooted relational sense of being engaging, of how do I really connect with you. I think that’s just a really powerful way to be able to look at it.
And then the whole concept of customer success. I could not agree more. I think that this is going to be the appropriate buzzwords that we’re gonna hear moving forward. It’s not just about customer satisfaction. I’m not a huge fan of the phrase customer satisfaction. I didn’t start out my business to make my customers satisfied. I want them to be successful. So the idea of customer success is really, really powerful. Just a really fantastic interview with Tiffani Bova.
Well, hey listen, as we have another wrap-up, I want to remind you that your customer needs you. And your customer needs you in a big way. Now they may not think that at first and they certainly may not act like it. But they need you. So here’s the question. When your customer comes to you out of their fear, out of their anxiety, and sometimes out of approach that is curt and a little ill-tempered even, will you outlast that? Because your customer still needs you. And I want to make sure that you’re keeping this in mind, that all of those defensive postures that your customer takes, that is not a reflection of their character. That is situational. That is an expression of their fear, of their concerns, of the hang-ups that they brought through. And it might very well have to do with the very last salesperson that they met. Your job is to outlast that.
Because if your customer comes in and is somehow defensive or combative or even just flat-out negative, how you receive that is gonna make all the difference in the world. You go head-to-head with a negative customer and you are sunk. But if you look and you say, “I’m going to bring all of this positive energy because that’s what I decided to do even before you walk through the door,” now this is a game. And you don’t lose. Because when you think about it, if the customer is negative and you go negative, does the customer win? No, the customer doesn’t win. Nobody wins. Nobody wins until that conversation turns positive. Outlast that initial expression you’re gonna get from that customer. Stay with them. Make that unilateral decision as to the positive energy you’re gonna bring to the conversation. And you’ll bring that customer along, and that’s when they’re gonna love you the most.
Well, hey listen, I hope you’ve subscribed to the podcast. That really means a lot to us. If you love it, a review would mean even more. But if you would consider posting a link to the podcast on your social media page, that would mean the world to us. Well, that’s a wrap on today’s episode of “The Buyer’s Mind.” As always, we hope you enjoyed it. You can find everything you need at jeffshore.com. But until next time, go out there, and change someone’s world.